MIT OpenCourse Ware is not (full) cooperation

Ray Shroeder, in one of his posts for today says that “the OpenCourseWare initiative has been compared to the Open Source movement of software development, where developers volunteer their time to create mostly free software”. I couldn’t agree more, as it is just the point I wanted to hit in my post entitled The four kinds of freedom of free knowledge.

Going back to the source of the post, John Jerney’s article MIT’s OpenCourseWare reaches an important milestone, it looks like all our problems were solved ’cause we’ve got some content uploaded. But this is only part of the problem’s solution.

I guess e-learning, and let me please simplify, has, at least, three main pillars to sustain the whole architecture of the system:

  • Contents, i.e. what you want to explain/teach
  • Teachers, that will help the student in his path from information to knowledge
  • E-learning platform, where all this happens: content access and student-teacher interaction

Thus, we have only 33.33% of the whole thing done, be it through MIT’s OpenCourseWare or anywhere else such as Fathom, the Maricopa Learning Exchange or University of British Columbia’s Careo.

Third point can be solved through open source e-learning platforms or just borrowing for free propietary licenses from other non-profit providers. Let’s believe this is also already solved.

But what about the pedagogical side of the question? I talked about teachers in general in the second point but, actually, it’s about two separate points we’re dealing with here:

  • People who will design courses: structure, length, etc.
  • People who will teach courses

And, so-far, we’ve got none of these available from any repository ;)

And, now seriously, it’s probable there’s few people available in the whole world: e-learning is about learning but far related with the presential model. There’s a need for a specific training in abilities such as distance learning, multimedia content, learning management systems intensive use, on-line communication, etc., etc., etc.

Thus, once we have content, and once we have our vitual classrooms, our goals must be:

  • Have people interested in e-teaching for nothing: e-volunteers for e-learning
  • Have these people trained in the requirements of the new environment

And this last point, yes, this last point’s gonna be the roughest one: I look for the day when the MIT will show the world how to use their OpenCourseWare. By the way, until then, I’ll thank them a lot for the great work done.


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2003) “MIT OpenCourse Ware is not (full) cooperation” In ICTlogy, #2, November 2003. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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